Artistic director: Iván Fischer A joint production of the Budapest Festival Orchestra and the Palace of Arts
Béla Bartók National Concert Hall
It was six years ago, in 2008, that the audience heard Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s pieces at the first marathon. The series with a unique atmosphere, running from morning till night and providing a “cross-section” of Bach’s oeuvre, was a roaring success that exceeded all expectations. In the following years, the organisers compiled the marathon programmes from pieces by Dvořak, Beethoven, Schubert, Mozart and, latterly, Bartók, touching an audience of tens of thousands. Iván Fischer chose one of the greatest geniuses of music history, Johann Sebastian Bach, to be the main feature of the 2014 Marathon. We will be able to listen to the greatest performers of baroque music on the first Sunday of February; Hungarian and international guests will pay tribute to the musical giant. It would be more than ambitious to present his extensive oeuvre in full in a single day; nevertheless, the concert series endeavours to tackle the impossible.
The Bach Marathon offers eleven concerts of the composer’s fascinating and extremely influential oeuvre. Well-known and popular pieces of music will be played on the stages of the Béla Bartók National Concert Hall at the Palace of Arts and of the Festival Theatre this year too, as interpreted by the best Hungarian and international performing artists.
The queen of instruments gets the first leading role of the day launched by the organ pieces interpreted by Xavér Varnus, then we can listen to young music school students as they present education and its “lessons”, vital in Bach’s oeuvre, whilst playing music from the scores of Anna Magdalena Bach, the composer genius’ second wife. Barnabás Kelemen, László Fassang and Gabriella Pivon give an insight into the concerto-form as well as one of the most popular instrumental pieces of music of the era, the suite, directly before the cantatas, which are considered milestones of ecclesiastical music and played by the Schola Cantorum Budapestiensis and the St. Ephraim Male Choir, conducted by Tamás Bubnó. In the afternoon, Bach’s possibly most popular pieces, the Brandenburg Concerti will be played, first by the Budapest String Chamber Orchestra and then by Aura Musicale - and “halfway” through the six concertos, genuine old-music phenomena will play Bach’s late masterpiece, the Musikalischer Opfer, which contains ten cantatas, two fugues and a trio sonata: here we welcome again members of the world-famous Belgian old-music family to Hungary, Sigiswald, Wieland and Barthold Kuijken. Miklós Spányi presents carefully elaborated pieces written for the most important strings-and-keys instrument of Bach’s era, the harpsichord, followed by unmissable piano concertos played by the Pannon Philharmonic Orchestra, Zoltán Fejérvári, János Palojtay and András Kemenes, conducted by András Vass. In addition to Kristóf Baráti and Dénes Várjon, we can listen to Miklós Perényi, the artist of the season, at the last but one concert, and the Budapest Festival Orchestra featuring Iván Fischer will traditionally finish the day. The Orchestra, which is considered one of the ten best classical music orchestras in the world and has just turned thirty (New York Magazine voted their Figaro performance at the Palace of Arts as the best opera performance in 2013) crowns the 13-hour programme series with the triumphant and awe-inspiring Magnificat.